Since being selected to participate in the Department for Education’s national Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) earlier this year, students at Saint Gregory’s have been busy honing their language skills in a bid to promote the importance of an international education in the 21st Century.

Earlier this week, students from Saint Gregory’s welcomed their MEP hub partners from Gumley House School and Didcot Girls’ School as they toured the city of Bath, sampling some of the Chinese shopping and culture that is available right on their doorstep. Almost 100 students from across the three schools took part in the event, organised by staff and students at Saint Gregory’s, as part of their commitment to the British Council’s programme.

Students enjoyed a range of activities including a Chinese-themed treasure hunt and walking trail of the city, a shopping adventure in Hondo Chinese Supermarket and a special workshop led by staff at the Museum of East Asian Art, all completed with an authentic Chinese lunch at Tasty Restaurant. In every venue, students were required to use their newly acquired language skills in Mandarin to converse with staff, helping to improve their knowledge and proficiency in Chinese.

The day was just a taste of the cultural experiences to come for all students taking part in the programme, as they look forward to the exciting prospect of two weeks studying in China at the end of Year 8. 

Head of Mandarin at Saint Gregory’s, Dr Theresa Munford, said, “It was a pleasure to welcome our MEP colleagues from partner schools and show them the delights of our city whilst demonstrating the array of cultural opportunities right on our door-step. We are very lucky to have such a wealth of resources to pull from in Bath and we thank everyone involved for their support in hosting such a successful day.”

Acting Headteacher, Mr Kevin McDermott, added, “The Mandarin Excellence Programme reflects the international ethos that is embedded throughout Saint Gregory’s. Next week, we see students studying in Finland, as part of the Erasmus+ programme, and Normandy, as part of a cross-curricular collaboration to bring History and Languages to life. Later this month, we welcome students from Córdoba as part of our well-established exchange programme. Through the promotion and development of international partnerships, we provide students with a fun and stimulating curriculum that enhances both their school-life and global awareness.”

Now in its second year, the intensive language programme is being delivered by the UCL Institute of Education in partnership with the British Council and, nationally, will see at least 5,000 school pupils in England on track towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese by 2020. Saint Gregory’s is one of only 37 state schools across the country to be selected to join the programme. Saint Gregory’s was selected for the MEP as a result of its long-standing commitment to the teaching of Mandarin.